James Clear found a review analysing over 100 studies about the impact of art on health. Here’s some of the things researchers had to say about the impact of visual art (see James’ article for all of them):
“Improved well–being by decreasing negative emotions and increasing positive ones” “Reductions in stress and anxiety; increases in positive emotions” “Reductions in distress and negative emotions” “Improvements in flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks”
I have written about creation for health benefits before so it’s cool to come across this article backing up my pseudo research on the topic with some studies. James even cites a study that found cellular changes as a result of creation:
writing as a treatment for HIV patients... resulted in “improvements of CD4+ lymphocyte counts.” That's the fancy way of saying: the act of writing actually impacted the cells inside the patient's body and improved their immune system.
Consuming stuff seems to make you feel a little better at first, then worse if you consume too much. I don’t know about you, but I tend to default towards trying to consume something when I’m trying to feel better. Whether it’s food or something on the internet, it generally doesn’t work very well.
If I’m feeling down, I’ve found that the process of cooking food often helps me much more than eating does. I think it’s because creating something helps you feel better and I think it applies to more than food.
Let’s talk about that.
To create is to express yourself. To give words or form to what’s inside you. To make some part of what’s in side you tangible to others. Arguably what’s inside you isn’t even tangible to you until you create something.
In this search for meaning we’re all in, making something tangle to look at, hear, or feel is part of the search.
Consumption of stuff is important too. It fuels the flame and gives you material to test. It shows you what others have to show and lets you see things that couldn’t be created in a vacuum inside you.
But creation is where you take that fuel and do something with it. It’s the place you go to show part yourself that couldn’t be created inside someone else. It’s your exploration, it’s your thing.
Make more art. Your health and happiness will improve and we'll all be better off for it.